caldwell-3Dr. James Caldwell,
Chair, Department of Biological Sciences,
Professor of Biology

Phone: 434-791-5766
Office: Frith Hall 307

“If I’d won the lottery yesterday, do you know what I’d be doing now?”  As Dr. James Caldwell asks that question, he goes right to the answer: “Exactly what I am doing — teaching at Averett. The time I spend with my students is my favorite time.”

He’s a teacher, he explains, not a researcher. And as Chair of the Department, he fills any open positions with teachers, as well. “I don’t hire people who worked for a big university where you teach two classes and do research. That’s not what we do at Averett. Our doors are open to our students. Our faculty members all want to see our students succeed, and they work very hard to help them do just that.”

He explains that Averett has “a very diverse faculty, but they all come here with teaching experience. In fact, I would rather hire someone who taught at a community college than who taught and did research at MIT. We are a community of teachers.”

He takes great pride in knowing all of his students, knowing them both inside and outside of the classroom. “I love the small-school atmosphere here, knowing my students, being a part of what they do … even after graduation. Actually, I pride myself most on knowing what they do when they leave here! I keep in touch, they keep in touch.”

As he says that, he swings around to his computer, explaining that he maintains a database of his graduates — tracking and updating constantly … using personal contact as well as Facebook, Twitter and other social media. “I have a list right here of my students since 1997,” he says, displaying his collection with a flourish.  “Ninety-four percent of graduates from this Department in the last six years are either seeking further education or are successfully employed in their field, or both. Their success stories are the things that keep us going.”  Spoken like a true — and proud — teacher.


  • Postdoctoral study: Harvard Medical School
  • Doctor of Philosophy, Microbiology and Immunology, Bowman Gray School of Medicine of Wake Forest University
  • Bachelor of Science, Zoology, The University of Texas at Austin
  • Human Genome Project Seminar, Dartmouth University

Bioethics; Human Genome Project; Medical Care in China, Australia and South Africa; Traditional Chinese Medicine


  • Invited presenter at symposium on Ethical, Legal and Social Issues of the Human Genome Project, Dartmouth College, 2006 and invited participant 2001
  • Selected as faculty advisor for the International Scholar Laureate Program on Medicine (2004, 2005, 2006)


  • “Using ELSI (ethical, legal and social implications) issues to help undergraduates examine their belief systems,” 2006, in press, University Press of New England
  • “Overexpression of RAD in muscle worsens diet induced insulin resistance and glucose intolerance,” Proc. National Academy of Science, 2006, 113:4431

Dr. Deborah M. DeMarey,DeMarey-2767
Associate Professor of Biology

Phone: 434-791-5772
Office: Frith 320

We’re sitting in Dr. DeMarey’s office, and she has the window wide open. As she talks, there’s a slight noise in the leaves outside. She stops talking, cocks her head to one side and listens intently.

“Do you hear that,” she asks in a loud whisper, “the wood frogs are calling! They’re not supposed to do that until the middle of March, maybe even April, but they are!” It goes without saying that everyone should be interested in what wood frogs are doing, and what schedule they’re on.

That kind of love for everything outdoors is nonstop for DeMarey, and her enthusiasm is deeply contagious.

“The students at Averett are great,” she says, “they’re inquisitive and enthusiastic. All I have to do is get them out of the classroom, so that’s what I do. We’re inside when we need to be, but biology is outside.”

She tells the story of one successful alumnus who was at Averett as a PE major. She took him and his class out once to observe early-morning birds. He wrote her after graduation, saying, “You ruined my life — all I can do now is see, hear and identify birds! Seriously, thank you.”

The love of nature began when DeMarey was a small girl, spending days in the mountains with a shoebox, an empty jar and a bologna sandwich, collecting insects while heading for her lunch rock. She still observes, still collects … and also now encourages curiosity among her students.

She also has a very practical side to her teaching, focusing on new classes in sustainability, a highly marketable component of biology.

The traditional biology graduate goes to work at a state park, a national park or a zoo, says DeMarey. She’s happy that opportunities now are in sustainability — doing what you love, protecting what you love, having a minimal impact on environment — while having a fulfilling career.

“Our sustainability classes look at all of the environmental issues, but from an optimistic perspective — what things can we actually do about global climate challenges. Let’s take the less-than-ideal situations and effect positive change.”

Her goal is to present students with a new challenge every time they walk through her door. No doubt she does just that, and she does it with enthusiasm.


  • Doctor of Philosophy, Geography/Biology, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
  • Master of Business Administration, Western New England College
  • Bachelor of Science, Biology, Westfield State College
  • Bachelor of Science, Education, University of Maine-Farmington

Zana Devlinzdevlin
Instructor of Biology

Office: Frith Hall 319
Phone: 434-791-4993


Laura Meder,meder2
Associate Professor of Biology

Phone: 434-791-5770
Office: Frith Hall 309

“You get the travel bug,” says Professor Laura Meder, summing up one way she influences her Biology students. Yes, she has always been interested in animals (she currently has nine cats), but travel with Biology majors — ah, international travel — that’s one special key to her success.

“Whenever we can get our students outside the classroom and even outside the country, that’s when they learn the most,” she says. “Going outside gets them to recognize the value of pushing themselves in different directions. And you know, that learning experience is different every time, every day, for every student.”

Meder certainly has taken her students “outside.” She has conducted study trips to places as exotic as Africa (for the animals and for a different ecosystem), Belize (to study dolphins), Suriname (for sea turtles) … plus Costa Rica and Mexico.  “Short (one-week to nine-day) trips are baby steps, aimed at students who have never traveled,” she explains. “When they like that, they consider taking trips of a month or longer.”

She adds that one student worked last summer as an Alaskan river guide, one Suriname-trip student now lives in Korea and another is planning another international trip.  “The trips let us get to know them really well,” she says, “although we certainly know all our students, even those who do not choose to travel. As biology teachers, we have them for labs as well as lectures, and that helps a lot. In the labs we work with them individually, plus we get to talk while we’re waiting for experiments to complete.”

Meder believes in introducing students to people and networks that can start them thinking about new paths and different options for their own lives: “Teaching, to me, is all about helping students recognize their own potential.”  One student at a time, at home and abroad.


Master of Science, Environmental Management, University of London

William T. Moore
Assistant Professor of Biology

Office: Frith 318
Phone: 434-791-5771



  • Ph.D. in Human Nutrition, Foods, and Exercise, Molecular and Cellular Sciences Track, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
  • Preparing the Future Professoriate Graduate Certificate, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
  • M.S. in Biology, Fort Hays State University
  • B.S. in Biological Sciences, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University


Diabetes, Metabolism, Insulin signaling, Human nutrition, Bioactive phytochemicals, Cell and molecular biology, Microbiology, Anti-microbial resistance, Contemporary pedagogy

Dr. Jimmy Turner III,
Assistant Professor of Chemistry

Phone: 434-791-5836
Office: Frith Hall 316

To an Averett student: “Is Professor Turner here?” “Yes, right around the corner – he’ll be the one smiling.” “Really? Why?” “He’s almost always smiling. He’s that way, one of the good guys.”  That pretty much sums up Dr. Jimmy Turner — one of the good guys. No pretensions, always approachable and yes, almost always smiling. His students recognize his goodness, and they appreciate it. “He definitely got me more interested in Chemistry,” one says, adding, “he made it possible for me to understand. I’ll always be grateful.”

Ask Turner what he thinks his students would say about him, and the response is quick and simple: “I hope they’d say I was one who was willing to help.” He adds, “most of the students at Averett come here for the close interactions they can have with the faculty. To me, that means that they want to learn, so it’s a pleasure to help them. That’s really why we’re here.”

Turner earned his undergraduate degree at Averett, and it was then, he says, that he noticed the faculty’s deep dedication to the students. “I remember one field trip I took, to Chapel Hill for a weekend seminar, and my professor drove me there and back. I can tell you that at a large university, you would not be driven to a seminar by your professor.”

Turner’s involvement with his students extends beyond the day of graduation. Over a recent holiday, he heard from four former students, and another one was heading to town for a visit.  “I had one student who came to our house often to do his independent study, and I still hear from him every week,” he says. “He went to work as a chemist in Texas doing analysis, doing gas chromatography, and he’s now planning on going to graduate school. I’ll work to help him get in.”  Turner feels that the Averett students are dedicated to their education; they know that he is.


  • Doctor of Philosophy, Theology, Biblical Life College and Seminary
  • Master of Divinity, Theology, Biblical Life College and Seminary
  • Master of Science, Organic Chemistry, Wake Forest University
  • Bachelor of Science, Chemistry, Averett College
  • Associate of Science, Science, Danville Community College

Stephanie Smithssmith
Instructor of Biology

Phone: 434-791-7176
Office: Frith Hall 312




  • Master of Science, Human Anatomy, University of Dundee (Dundee, Scotland)
  • Bachelor of Science, Biomedical Science, Averett University